By Beverly Keller
On July 11, the Tuscarawas County Health Department received a call from a concerned citizen in reference to a deceased raccoon. The caller noted that the raccoon in question had exhibited strange, erratic behavior before its death.
The Health Department collected the dead carcass and sent it to be tested. It was located near Echo Lake Road in Warren Township near the Goshen Township line. The animal was shipped to the Ohio Department of Agriculture for testing.
On August 1, the Tuscarawas County Health Department received word from the Ohio Department of Agriculture concerning the raccoon. The animal carcass tested positive for a form of rabies known as RRV – Raccoon Rabies Variant. The report is the first confirmed case of the disease in Tuscarawas County history. According to Health Commissioner Katie Seward, the positive case signifies an immediate and potential threat of raccoon rabies to new areas of eastern and central Ohio. It should be understood that RRV is a strain of rabies found in the eastern United States and has recently been found in areas of Stark County.
Rabies is a viral disease that affects mammals, including humans. It is almost always fatal. Common signs that a raccoon or other wild animal has rabies include agitation, disorientation, excessively drooling, wobbling when walking and biting or snapping at people or objects.
The vaccine baiting operation by air is intended to immunize raccoons that are at the greatest risk of contracting the disease. The baits, pictured above, are covered in a green sweet-smelling wax-like coating. They are not harmful to pets but it is advised to keep dogs and cats on leashes for five days after the last day of baiting (August 24). If a human handles bait, be sure to wash well with soap and water.
Tuscarawas County Health Department will continue to work with the Ohio Department of Agriculture to perform enhanced surveillance sample collections near the areas where the rabid raccoon was found. As a part of that, Seward is asking residents to report any raccoons, skunks, foxes, coyotes or bobcats displaying strange behavior found in Warren or Goshen Township and surrounding areas to the Tuscarawas County Health Department by calling 330-343-5550 or emailing email@example.com.
No prior cases have been identified in Tuscarawas County. If established, this strain could lead to a dramatic increase in rabies exposure to people and pets.
If you have questions regarding the recent raccoon positive case or about rabies, in general, call the Tuscarawas County Health Department at 330-343-5550 or the ODH Zoonotic Disease program at 614-752-1029or Via email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story originally appeared in the August 22, 2018 edition of The Budget. For more news, pick up a copy of this week’s edition available Wednesdays at area retailers. Better yet, subscribe and the news will be delivered to you each week. For more information, call us at 330-852-4634.